The last time the Southeast Raleigh girls played in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A final, the Bulldogs beat McDowell County 68-65 at the Smith Center on March 13, 1999.
Ansley Bienvenu hit perhaps the longest, and unquestionably the biggest, shot in Southeast Raleigh history.
Coach William Powell had called a time out with 10.8 seconds left with the score tied to set up a play for senior star Jessica Hawkins, who led the Bulldogs with 19 points.
Bienvenu ended up with the ball 10 feet beyond the top of the circle as the clock clicked down. She fired.
Her high-arching shot seemed to take minutes to reach its destination but then exploded into the net, capping a 29-1 season.
I knew it was in, Bienvenu said.
So did McDowells Jennifer Brooks. You could tell it was going in the way she shot it, Brooks said.
Not so for Southeast Raleigh teammate Alison Thompson. I wondered, What did she shoot that for, she said.
The last time the Chapel Hill girls played in the state 3A championship, they left disappointed. Charlotte Harding took a 56-52 victory at N.C. States Reynolds Coliseum last March 16.
The Tigers fell behind early and trailed 29-19 at the half before pulling to within three points with 90 seconds left. Harding made one free throw, and Chapel Hill didnt score again, missing its next three shots.
Chapel Hills top three scorers in the 2013 final have been key players this season for the 31-0 Tigers.
Catherine Romaine was voted the teams most outstanding player in the championship game last year after scoring 14 points, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking three shots. Jamella Smith also had 14 points, and Raziyah Farrington added 11 in the final.
The last time the Apex boys played for a state championship, they were the biggest surprise. Coach David Neals 19-11 club reached a 4A championship assignment in 2008 against East Mecklenburg (25-8) at the Smith Center, but the Cougars were overwhelmed in the final minutes of a 72-63 loss.
Tim Plummer, who had been academically ineligible during the first semester, helped transform the Cougars from a 4-9 team to a state finalist.
Apex won three playoff games by a total of 10 points and seemed on the way to a championship upset before a six-point lead turned into a three-point deficit during a 39-second spurt late in the third quarter.
East Meck expanded the lead to 17 points with 71 seconds left.
Neal said that when he looked back on the season, there was nothing the team could have done to make him more proud. Not even a state championship.